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Volunteering, Income Support Programs and Disabled Persons


  • Campolieti , Michele
  • Gomez, Rafael
  • Gunderson, Morley


We study the propensity of disabled persons to engage in volunteer activity with the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) -- a unique Canadian dataset which provides extensive information on disabled persons as well as volunteering behaviour. Our principal focus is on the effects of various income support programs on disabled person’s participation in volunteer activities. We find that certain income support programs (e.g., workers’ compensation) are associated with decreases in the probability of volunteering while others (e.g., Pension Plans) are associated with increases in the propensity to volunteer. The reason is that not all income support programs are identical with respect to their implications for unpaid work. There are some – like workers compensation – that embody strong disincentives to volunteering while others like public Pensions that explicitly encourage unpaid work. Our conclusion is that program characteristics can significantly affect volunteering. This conclusion is further supported when we look at other income support programs that embody ambiguous or no incentive effects. As one would anticipate, these ‘incentive neutral’ programs have no significant impact on volunteering. The relevance of these results to both theories of volunteerism and public policy is discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Campolieti , Michele & Gomez, Rafael & Gunderson, Morley, 2009. "Volunteering, Income Support Programs and Disabled Persons," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2009-16, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 16 Feb 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2009-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rafael Gomez & Eric Santor, 2001. "Membership has its privileges: the effect of social capital and neighbourhood characteristics on the earnings of microfinance borrowers," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 943-966, November.
    2. Kathleen Day & Rose Annue Devlin, 1998. "The Payoff to Work without Pay: Volunteer Work as an Investment in Human Capital," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(5), pages 1179-1191, November.
    3. Kathleen M. Day & Rose Anne Devlin, 1996. "Volunteerism and Crowding Out: Canadian Econometric Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 37-53, February.
    4. Freeman, Richard B, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 140-166, January.
    5. Carol Woodhams & Susan Corby, 2007. "Then and Now: Disability Legislation and Employers' Practices in the UK," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(3), pages 556-580, September.
    6. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kelly Chen & Lars Osberg & Shelley Phipps, 2015. "Inter-generational effects of disability benefits: evidence from Canadian social assistance programs," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 873-910, October.

    More about this item


    Disability; Income Support Programs; Incentive Effects; Volunteer Activity;

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy

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